There wasn’t going to be much suspense with this one. Inside linebacker Joe Thomas was an exclusive rights free agent and he went ahead and signed his tender with the Green Bay Packers on Monday.
Thomas has played two season with the Packers, after being acquired as an undrafted free agent out of South Carolina State.
In 2016, he actually started seven games and, surprisingly, played more snaps than any inside linebacker on the team. Thomas finished with 820 snaps, while Jake Ryan had 690 and Blake Martinez had 480, according to Rob Demovsky.
We looked at that as a failing on Martinez’s part more than anything Thomas did great.
As the story goes, Thomas is pretty good in coverage, but not good at anything else. He has a hard time getting off blocks and we’ve watched him get plowed over by too many running backs. We doubt anyone would call tackling a strength either. It appeared that he played simply because Martinez wasn’t as good in coverage as expected.
Ryan and Martinez were supposed to hold down the Packers’ inside linebacker spots. Martinez was overtaken (or replaced might be a better word) by Thomas in the second half of the season.
Thomas finished the year with 70 tackles, five passes defended and an interception. Interestingly, Martinez had just one less tackle, despite playing around half the snaps.
We would suggest the Packers upgrade the position in the draft, but that almost seems impossible with all the other holes they now have to fill.